ATHENS, Ga. — The No. 8-ranked Georgia women’s golf team defeated top-ranked Alabama, 3.5-1.5, on Sunday in the championship match of the 45th Annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic at the UGA Golf Course.
“The regular season ended perfectly because we’re playing our best golf,” head coach Josh Brewer said. “We’ve just got to keep the momentum now, but it’s a great way to be heading into SECs.”
Senior Mary Ellen Shuman, playing in her first Liz Murphey, provided the only match decided by more than one hole by defeating Lauren Stephenson, 3-and-2.
The other four matches were nip and tuck affairs and finished at either 1-up or all-square.
“It was definitely fun to play at home and have friends and family out there,” Shuman said. “This was my first time playing in the Liz so I went out with a bang. It’s perfect timing heading into postseason. I don’t think we could ask for anything more, just some momentum that should help us get through the next couple of weeks.”
Bailey Tardy and Harang Lee also earned points for Georgia with 1-up wins, while Rinko Mitsunaga halved her match to give the Bulldogs their half point.
After losing the first two holes of the day and trailing for the first seven, Shuman knotted the match at No. 8 and grabbed a lead she would not relinquish at No. 10.
“I made some stupid mistakes in the beginning and just never really let it get to me,” Shuman said. “I just kept hitting the shots I knew I could hit and it just kinda turned for the better and worked out.
“I hit it in the woods on No. 6 and thought I hit what was a really poor shot out but it ended up close,” Shuman added. “I thought to myself ‘this could be a good sign.’ After that, I just focused harder and knew that I could do it and that the course wasn’t fighting against me.”
Shuman moved to 2-up with a birdie at No. 11 and clinched the match at No. 16 when Stephenson double-bogeyed.
Tardy was first on the course for the Bulldogs and her match with Kristen Gillman was all-square for 10 of the first 11 holes. Gillman moved to 1-up when Tardy bogeyed No. 12 and maintained that edge for five holes. Tardy then birdied No. 17 and No. 18 to flip the final result.
Lee, the final match of the day, never trailed in her match with Lakareber Abe. She moved to 1-up with a birdie at No. 2, but Abe tied the match at No. 3. Lee inched ahead for good at No. 8 and swapped between 1-up and 2-up five times over the next eight holes. She led 1-up through 17 when her match was suspended because the Bulldogs had clinched the victory.
The Bulldogs completed a clean sweep of all the hardware handed out at this Liz Murphey. On Friday, Jillian Hollis earned medalist honors after firing a 5-under 67. That also led Georgia to the stroke play title and the No. 1 seed in match play.
Georgia has now earned 14 team titles and 12 individual crowns in the tournament’s history. The Bulldogs last won the team title in 2008, while Marta Silva Zamora was Georgia’s most recent medalist in 2011.
The Bulldogs will open postseason competition in two weeks when they compete in the SEC Championships at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham. Georgia will then host an NCAA Regional at the UGA Golf Course on May 8-10. The top-six finishers in the 18-team field will advance to the NCAA Championships in Sugar Hills, Ill., on May 19-24.
“As a team, we’ve got to get ready,” Brewer said. “We’ve poked a bear that has been No. 1 all year, and they’d love to pay us back in about two weeks. We’ve just got to be ready.”